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Mystery Renault insider confirmed Briatore was in on crash plot

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Mystery Renault insider confirmed Briatore was in on crash plot
Sep 22, 2009, 10:44 PM

The full explanation of how the World Motor Sport Council reached its decision has just been published and the really interesting point is that Fla...

The full explanation of how the World Motor Sport Council reached its decision has just been published and the really interesting point is that Flavio Briatore was betrayed by a Renault insider who demanded anonymity in return for detailed information about Briatore's involvement in F1's most notorious cheating scandal.

After their initial investigations, neither Renault nor the FIA were sure of the extent of Briatore's involvement. As a result, according to the report,

"The FIA considered that it was imperative to conduct further enquiries in order

that all available facts could be presented to the WMSC. The FIA’s further

enquiries led to an additional set of Renault F1 written submissions dated 17

September 2009. In those additional submissions, Renault F1 referred to the

existence of another member of the Renault F1 team (“Witness X”) who, although

not a conspirator himself, knew of the conspiracy at the time of the 2008

Singapore Grand Prix. Renault F1 stated in its submissions of 17 September 2009

that Witness X had confirmed that Mr Briatore had known of the deliberate crash

plan before it had been put into effect. "

Witness X, it turns out, was present at a meeting where Briatore discussed the crash plot with Pat Symonds,

"Renault F1 submitted that Witness X was a ‘whistleblower’ within its team and

that if his identity were to be revealed it may discourage other similarly situated

persons to come forward in relation to this or other matters. The FIA considered

this argument to have some merit, given that Witness X was said not himself to be

a conspirator. However, the FIA considered that this argument had to be balanced

against the requirements of the FIA’s investigation and the requirement to put the

full facts before the WMSC. The FIA therefore agreed with Renault F1 that the

identity of Witness X would be made known to the FIA’s President, and certain of

the FIA’s legal advisers only."

It goes on, "When the FIA’s advisers interviewed Witness X, he expressly confirmed that Mr Briatore was involved in the conspiracy because Witness X had been personally present at a meeting shortly after qualifying on Saturday 27 September 2008 when Mr Symonds had mentioned the possibility of a crash plan to Mr Briatore. The FIA’s advisers were confident that Witness X himself played no active role in the

conspiracy."

So who is the mysterious witness X? The FIA report goes on to say that Fernando Alonso did not know about it, so it cannot be him, but it could be one of the other senior Renault engineers, like Alan Permane or James Allison. Whoever it is, Briatore will know their name because he will recall the meeting.

Another interesting point is that Renault has its own internal whistleblower policy, to try to weed out problems. But it failed in this case, for obvious reasons,

"It appears that Renault F1 had policies in place, including internal whistleblower policies, which would normally have prevented the occurrence of these events. These policies were not effective in this case because the very people to whom the events would have been reported under those policies, had anybody known, were themselves conspirators. "

The conclusion to the report highlights Briatore's conflicting roles as team principal and manager of drivers working for that team, something that F1 people had got used to, but which newcomers to the sport always found puzzling,

"Not only did he hold a responsibility to the team, he had a responsibility to guide and assist Mr Piquet Jnr in his career and to offer advice as needed. The WMSC regard it to be unsatisfactory that any Team Principal should manage any driver as it can lead to the kinds of conflicts of interests that plainly arose here. In this case Mr Briatore manifestly did not guide Mr Piquet Jnr appropriately and indeed allowed and

seemingly encouraged him to engage in potentially ruinous and life-threatening

activities.

"Taken together, the above factors, and the complete absence of any mitigating

factors, lead the WMSC to conclude that Mr Briatore is not a person suitable to

participate in any way in any motorsport activities under the FIA’s control."

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